Drawing the Boukoleon Portals 4

Friday 23 September 2011 • 2:00-3:00/4:30-6:00


A hot blue fall day, perfect for drawing. But I had to pay the damned rent. Not that I mind, I’m glad I have it. This means a trip to my bank in Cembelitas, all the way up by the Grand Bazaar. Gabrielle, who is here from Wyoming, painting her socks off, is trading art time for blog-lesson time, and we were meeting at the Boukoleon. I rode the tram up to Cemberlitas, but the angel who helps me was at lunch, since it was lunchtime. I walked down the hill and bought potato chips at the Hippodrome, kept going past obelisks and arches and out through the Cadladikapi Gate and around the corner to the Boukoleon. Set up in record time and sweetly sank into drawing. Using a pencil, which is like soft shoes after dancing pumps. Too sweet. I had to abandon it and go for the pen. I almost never use pencil anymore, it’s too easy to erase and change stuff, it feels like cheating, and if you go too long it means drawing everything twice. But this drawing is so complex, and it’s already a good seven hours in, so– a little pencil, dammit, I told the art demon as it hissed “Pencil is for pussies.”

312230 10150330841653914 556693913 8035486 1235400529 n - Drawing the Boukoleon Portals 4

Gabrielle showed up and set up. She’s gorgeous, so I made her drape her scarf over as much as possible, button up all the purses and carryalls and sit on them, and we started. And then I had to run back up the hill to pay the rent.

Why do I have to do this? The only way it’s legal to pay is via a bank. Just putting it into my landlord’s account over the counter costs 28 lira, and I’m already paying too much for the apartment. So I learned how to do the Internet Banking thing. It worked fine, and then a year ago I got hacked and lost my email account. Oy Vey!! Every single thing in my life was tied to that account! Had to change everything, including both bank accounts. And the next time I tried to pay my rent, I couldn’t get it to work again. Lots of boxes popping up, Turkish in red with exclamation points, scared hell out of me…so I went to my branch and pled my case.

292848 10150330842818914 556693913 8035492 306334605 a - Drawing the Boukoleon Portals 4This is Hasan at Garanti Bank. That little delirium tremens on his shoulder is actually an icon of his surname, which means Lion Sword. And boy, does he cut through all the problems. Paying my rent is now a pleasant ritual involving conversation, tea drinking, catching up, and so forth. This is one of the more civilized aspects of living here, that such things can happen.

306403 10150330844778914 556693913 8035500 1283471693 a - Drawing the Boukoleon Portals 4So back happy down the hill to the Boukoleon. Gabrielle drawing, we’re talking, and guys showing up– a big friendly galoot watching us draw. A tent regular stumbled by, loaded, carrying his dog. The galoot said he was bad news, kept talking, trying my Turkish and my patience until I finally indicated needing to work and he mercifully left. Another guy lurched up, startling Gabrielle, but he’s okay, he’s the affable guy from the service station. Around here it’s really if they’ll hurt you, and I never met one down here who would, although they hang around the periphery. Then before I could blink it was six, and the bricks beginning to blur up there on the portal.

Then Turkish coffee at the teahouse in the wall, the clouds blowing peachy across the light sky over the water. A hike through the Stable Gate and up the hill, and eventually home. Now I’m looking at the drawing and wishing I was back there, the Art Demon in teeth-gritting fury at being diverted, thwarted…it’s a nasty beast, it hates everyone and everything but creation, all the lovely moments of society mean nothing to it, it won’t listen to reason, even when I say look, these things can’t be helped, there are responsibilities in my life, people in my life and I’m glad of it, but it won’t let me rest or sleep, I’m dog-tired now but I just trashed the entire note and had to write it again but it doesn’t care. It says, “look at this pitiful bit you did today, I rest my case.”

Tomorrow I’m getting out there early, I swear.


  1. wes reeves

    I gasped when I saw the treatment of the inner arch through the portal. White ink or no. Fine line drawings and etchings have always had a powerful attraction for me. I seek them out wherever I can. Once with admission to the archives at the Uffize gained by a friend I actually held a Rembrandt etching he himself had printed. So it was a thrilling double pleasure to see your drawings and learn of your kind words and attention to our little girl Gabrielle.

    Your writing is clever and seems facile as writting should. I’m a little puizzled by the red and blue lines but your description of the mental process and energy put into the drawings is very interesting and is no doubt helpful to Gabrielle and anyone trying the same thing.

    I have looked extensively at your web site and admire all of your work very much. What a great experience for Gabrielle to spend some time with you. Others of the family hope to get a little of it too.

    1. tricivenola

      Thanks very much! It’s not every day I get associated with Rembrandt. I’ll try to make the Cross method clearer as I go. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what a delight it is to work with your daughter. I’m looking forward to meeting you all.

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